Free Speech

Why do so many people who might want to harm someone else love to post about it online ahead of time? Not only is it a dumb strategic move — it alerts others to your allegedly nefarious plans, so a potential victim can escape the situation — it also makes it infinitely easier for law enforcement to, like, arrest and prosecute you.

We’ve heard this in various forms before, in regards to a possible mall shooting and laptop thief. But you would think a former prosecutor would know better than to allegedly threaten, via Facebook, to give his boss a whuppin’…

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SO. Freaking. Annoying!

If you like traffic cops, please raise your hand.

Good. Now bring that hand down in a hard, smacking manner upside your own head.

Traffic cops are the worst cops of all cops and meter maids are the worst of all the traffic cops. Think about it, the entire job of a meter maid involves punishing people for parking their cars — usually in a time and place where the very city they represent has not provided enough parking. What kind of job is that? I feel like everybody should have the right to go Lock Stock on traffic wardens.

Well, maybe that’s going a little far. But you should at least be able to scream at them. That’s a position that the state of Michigan fully supports me on…

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Permitting the Government to decree this speech to be a criminal offense would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable. That governmental power has no clear limiting principle.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy in today’s Stolen Valor ruling. You know, just the other random Supreme Court decision — protecting the First Amendment — that nobody seems to care about.

Free speech is a complex area legally, but it’s important to recognize that there are distinctions between one’s ability to express an opinion versus one’s ability to use F.C.C.-regulated airwaves to do so, and also one’s ability to engage in speech versus one’s ability to engage in slander.

Georgetown Law graduate Sandra Fluke, in a New York Times Magazine interview this weekend. Fluke was launched into the national spotlight after Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” for speaking out in favor of affordable contraception.

(An additional excerpt from the interview, after the jump.)

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Joseph Amendola

* Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, has a very lawyerly license plate — and expired tags, too? [Deadspin]

* In other sports law news, Darren Heitner says at least one football helmet manufacturer should be afraid, be very afraid, of concussion litigation. [Forbes]

* A pop culture blogger, Jenni Maier, is rudely awakened to the boring, sexless, receding-hairline-filled real world of jury duty. [Crushable]

* A pair of former Lawyers of the Day, Michael Tein and Guy Lewis, are in trouble again — this time for allegedly acting “recklessly and unprofessionally” twowards the judge in a wrongful death case they were handling. [Miami Herald]

* The Minnesota Supreme Court rules that a Mortuary Science student was legally flunked for making fun (on Facebook) of the cadaver she had to dissect. Chalk up another point to the Facebook Fun Police. [City Pages]

* Senior U.S. District Judge Robert J. Kelleher, the oldest serving federal judge, died at 99 in California. [Associated Press]

* Only 44% of Americans approve of how the Supreme Court is doing its job, but that’s probably because the other 56% wouldn’t know what the Supreme Court was unless the justices were contestants on a reality show. [New York Times]

* Having nothing to do with the outcome of this Tenth Circuit appeal, apparently a juror in the underlying case had no idea when the First Amendment was adopted. As Bush II would say, is our children learning? [U.S. Tenth Circuit / FindLaw]

* Who’s going to win the “Super Bowl” of Android patent trials? Nobody. Judge Richard Posner has issued a “tentative” order which noted that both sides of the Apple/Google case ought to be dismissed. [Reuters]

* You should’ve “known better”: in case we didn’t make it abundantly clear when we spoke about NALP’s data for the class of 2011, the job market for new law grads is being classified as “brutal.” [National Law Journal]

* U. Chicago Law revolutionized the field of law and economics, but much to the school’s chagrin, everyone copied them. Now they’re thinking up new ways to do the same things. Gunners gotta gun. [Businessweek]

* Say hello to Mary Lu Bilek, the woman who’s been appointed as the new dean of UMass Law. Hopefully she’s not keen on using school credit cards for personal spending like the last dean. [Wall Street Journal]

* Occupy Wall Street protesters can’t sue NYC, its mayor, or its police commissioner, but they can sue the police. And with that news, “F**k tha Police” was sung in drum circles across the tri-state area. [Bloomberg]

Luckily for all the non-Mormons in Idaho, the state doesn't find references to grand tetons offensive to anybody.

It’d be one thing if the state of Idaho banned all alcohol because the state sports a large Mormon population and Mormons don’t drink. That might raise a Con Law question or two, but before we could even litigate it out, the state’s many non-Mormons would rebel against the religious theocracy preventing them from drinking. (They wouldn’t call it a “theocracy” because some Grover Norquist-type would convince them that “redistributive taxes” had empowered a “Communist regime,” and the good people of Idaho would blame the black guy, but I digress.)

Banning all alcohol would be too obvious of an imposition of religious dogma upon a secular concern.

Instead, Idaho is trying to get away with a smaller encroachment of religion upon the public sphere. The state of Idaho has effectively banned the sale of one particular kind of vodka because the state believes the company’s marketing campaign is offensive to Mormons.

And no, the marketing campaign is not “drink some of this vodka and then go make fun of Mormons,” or anything the state could reasonably fear might affect the public safety of the citizens of Idaho….

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I wonder if David Beckham jumps out of her birthday cake?

* For some reason, the Supreme Court has hardly ruled on any of the First Amendment cases before it this term. Cue the Twilight Zone theme.[PrawfsBlawg]

* New strategy for closing the gender gap: stop relying on mentors so much. Because, you know, Jack Donaghy can only do so much before Liz Lemon has to start figuring stuff out on her own. [Careerist]

* He’s not saying your antivirus software is useless, it’s just not exactly useful. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Happy Diamond Jubilee to that elderly English lady who wears big, old-fashioned hats and is always politely waving to large crowds. [Charon QC via Blawg Review]

* A man stole a $4,000 gold plated vibrator, but he forgot to nab the charger. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. [Legal Juice]

* What not to do in a judge’s chambers. [Greedy Associates]

We’ve got two unrelated First Amendment issues floating around today that I’m mashing into one post, because it is my right to do so.

We all know that money is speech. How we got to the point where money is worth just as much speech as talking is a manner of some contention (see Jeff Toobin’s New Yorker piece and Tom Goldstein’s response), but the question is what other things that don’t involve people saying anything can also be construed as “speech.”

Now Mitt Romney will tell you that money is speech and “corporations are people, my friend.” Fair enough. But I’m not sure he’d defend the free speech rights of people who don’t have any money so they’re asking for it on the streets of Chicago.

And I have no idea how he’d respond if you asked him if cars are people that can flash each other under the protection of the First Amendment….

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A large portion of the strenuous life of bloggers consists of cruising various news sites, looking for some tidbit ridiculous interesting enough to merit a couple hundred words. You do this long enough, and you wind up getting picky pretty quickly. So, last night, when I clicked over to Wired, it was surprising in and of itself that when I saw the following story I literally stared at the screen, slack jawed, for close to a minute.

That’s how ridiculous this proposed legislation coming out of New York is. The only thing I can say is that if this bill somehow managed to become law, the Above the Law commentariat would not be happy at all…

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